Thought leadership

Despite the clear benefits of aligning sales and marketing teams, two-fifths of British companies have yet to align their sales goals with their marketing activities.

Four in ten (40%) of sales and marketing professionals surveyed across the country say their companies have yet to successfully implement formal programmes, systems or processes for unifying sales and marketing functions according to research conducted by specialist recruiter Randstad Sales, Marketing and Retail.

The research, which was unveiled at the launch of the Randstad Sales & Marketing Alignment Report, found that a third (33%) of those polled said their companies have no plans to implement any formal programmes for unifying these two critical functions.  Only 8% say they are intending on integrating teams in the future, despite much hard evidence and business rationale for combining the two. Key findings include

  • Four-fifths (80%) of organisations recognise the benefits of better alignment between sales and marketing
  • But two-fifths (40%) of companies haven’t even tried to integrate teams, and still have no formal programmes, systems or processes in place to unify functions
  • Companies held back by siloed operations, corporate culture-bias, organisational structures, lack of management support and ineffective reporting

Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Sales, Marketing and Retail, commented: “British businesses continue to suffer from a seemingly unbridgeable divide between their marketing and sales teams – a gap that undermines the efforts of the crucial corporate functions necessary to generate demand, capture revenue and gain a competitive advantage.

“Management need to be educated about where and how marketing should be supporting both the go-to-market process and every step of the lead generation, qualification, and closing cycle.”

While 80% of organisations recognise the benefits of better interconnectivity across these key demand-generating functions, they are being thwarted by: organisational structures (cited in 34% of responses); corporate culture-biases about sales and marketing roles (26%); siloed operations (11%); insufficient support from management (18%); and ineffective reporting (11%). 



While more than three quarters (77%) of sales professionals said their own function was leveraging customer data to form deeper, more connected relationships with the customer, almost two-fifths (37%) of salespeople said their organisation’s marketing department was failing to effectively leverage customer data.  Similarly, when marketing professionals were asked how they viewed sales, one in four (39%) said the sales function is their organisation was not leveraging customer data effectively.

Randstad discovered that just two-thirds of respondents had customer relationship management (CRM) programs – the first post of call for integrating the data generated by both sales and marketing teams.  Of those with CRM, 27% were unsatisfied with their organisations’ view of customer interactions.

When it comes to reporting and effective data analysis, the UK is lagging behind US competitors. As part of the research, Randstad analysed the media profile of ‘big data’ in the UK and compared it to that in the United States.  Over the five years from 2009 to 2014 (inclusive) there were 10,000 articles mentioning big data in the UK[1].  Meanwhile, there were 84,000 in the US over the same period.  In addition, the profile of big data in the UK has increased much later than in the US, with 82% of those articles appearing in the last two years – compared to 76% in the USA.

Ruth Jacobs commented: “We all understand that the customer must be at the centre of any organisational relationship.  But as far as sales professionals are concerned, the UK’s marketing community has been slow to embrace big data. A common digital location to record business information is just the first step in bridging the entrenched divide between the two camps – but there are plenty of other tools at our disposal now to fuse the two streams of information, which can help overcome long-held culture biases, poor reporting and siloed operations.” 


Underlying and underpinned by siloed and detached operations are entrenched corporate culture-biases about sales and marketing roles. Less than a fifth of sales and marketing departments are highly collaborative – despite their interdependence, most sales and marketing teams have only “intermittent relations and interactions”. Keeping the two functions separate in organisational structures has enforced perceptions of incompatible cultures. For instance, the marketing-sales divide is commonly put down to the different mindsets of the two – “short-term orientation versus long-term orientation.”[2] 

Only 47% of sales professionals polled agreed that their colleagues in marketing were as concerned with generating return on investment as the sales side of the business.  Almost one in five (19%) salespeople said that marketers were not as market-savvy and on-target with demand-generating campaigns as sales teams.  

Ruth Jacobs concluded: “Sales can add tangible value to marketing messaging and communications by engaging strategically with customers to better understand issues and needs.  And on the other hand, marketing can optimise sales by fielding campaigns that generate and nurture leads and opportunities, as well as by providing customised value-selling content and presentation materials.  It’s a natural fit.  But it’s not happening – and there’s a cultural hurdle in place to surmount first.

“In the 21st century, it’s possible to demonstrate how marketing strategies are producing a return on investment – suddenly this levels the playing field between the two warring camps, and helps to eradicate the age-old grudge that marketing doesn’t generate practical results. Misunderstandings and unfamiliarity of each department’s needs and functions has bred resentment – but it can be solved. Those companies that have devoted the time to integrating their sales and marketing teams have reaped the dividend. It’s possible in just a few individual steps – businesses simply have to put their best foot forward and start the journey.”

[1] Analysis carried out using Factiva.  Search term “Big Data”.  Comparison between UK region and USA region from 01.01.2009 to 31.12.2014.  10,439 results found in UK with 8,513 appearing in 2013 and 2014; 83,653 results found in USA with 63,708 appearing in 2013 and 2014.

[2] Strategic Customer Management, Nigel F Percy and Nikala Lane (Oxford, 2009), p.138

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